Digitalization vs cash


Digitalization vs cash.


14 June 2022

Key issues:

Alternative channels for payments
Reduction of cash in the economy and fighting informality
Access of the banks to the e-Albania platform


AAB members banks, Bank of Albania, Deputy Prime Minister Office, Ministry of Finance and Economy, VISA, state institutions, financial sector, business associations, etc.

The forum is supported by PayLink.


The Forum “Digitalization vs Cash” took place in Tirana on June 14, 2022. Were invited banks executives, banking industry employees, representatives of state and public institutions, business associations, academia, media, politics, international institutions and foreign institutions. Also, was attended by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of State for Reconstruction and Reform Program, Mr. Arben Ahmetaj; the Minister of Finance and Economy Mrs. Delina Ibrahimaj; the Governor of the Bank of Albania, Mr. Gent Sejko; and the Chair of Economy and Finance Committee in the Albanian Parliament, Mr. Eduard Shalsi.

The forum was focused on three key issues:

Alternative payment channels
Cash reduction use and the fight against informality
Use of the e-Albania portal by banks

1. Regarding the alternative payment channels, there is a low-value payment strategy adopted by the National Payments System Committee, but there is still no specific initiative or project implemented. Today, the Albanian consumer and business are faced with the only widely agreed alternative for the payment of goods and services in cash. In some cases, especially in more developed areas and sustainable business units, you can even pay by card.

AAB is seeking another, low-cost and widely used alternative, agreed by businesses, to coexist alongside cash. Many of the considered solutions are already present in other countries: In Greece and Hungary it is mandatory, by law, in cooperation with the government; Armenia has just adopted the law; Serbia has developed a local card. Other countries have instant payment. Models such as the SWITCH of in-country payments with international cards, the use of QR Code, and maybe even local card were introduced in the Forum.

The Forum left room for the preparation of a concept note to analyse the possibilities to focus on an alternative payment channel, in cooperation with the Bank of Albania and whether the government assistance will be necessary. VISA also expressed its commitment to assist and support this proposal with solutions from their experience and possibilities.

2. The alternative payment channel becomes indispensable when we consider how much cash is present in the Albanian economy. In order to reduce the use of cash, real opportunities must be offered everywhere to the consumer and the business that can pay electronically in another way. The reduction of physical money (cash) usage saves costs of money printing and maintenance, formalizes the country’s economy, and improves the country’s reputation.

In order to reduce the use of cash, the Government must consider the ceiling limit for cash payments for the individual and possibly unify the ceiling limit with that of the business. The current ceiling value only for business is ALL 150 thousand. Northern Macedonia has offered 500 euros for each payment. We would propose the same limit for business and individual. The Minister of Finance and Economy welcomed the proposal under the condition on further elaboration regarding the limit, with more arguments and suitable for the country’s reality.

3. Digitization is a profound and extensive process. It should include, preferably all services and payments, both for the private and public sectors. In this context, at the Forum, it has been emphasized the cooperation between the Ministry of Finance and Economy, the Bank of Albania, National Agency of ICT (AKSHI), and AAB regarding the establishment of a working group to find a solution accepted by the parties for the public services payment received from e-Albania. The next meeting of the working group will probably reach an agreement on the solution.

On the other hand, banks are extremely interested in taking advantage of the e-Albania platform by giving the right of access to each bank against a well-established procedure to obtain information, with the client’s authorization, for the purpose of risk analysis during the lending process. This would make it easier for every individual, but also businesses, in order not to waste time ineffectively on obtaining these data. Bank will verify in e-Albania the necessary indicators and those that are provided by e-Albania. It remains to be considered whether this will be carried out or not by establishing a communication between AKSHI and AAB with the Government mediation. AAB will insist on this mediation with the assistance of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

Digitization is not an action, it is a process; it is not a unilateral process, but a bilateral one. This cooperation between market stakeholders and legislators needs to be substantially more transparent, effective, and unbiased. For instance, the process of opening an online account is still legally unclear; there are required unequivocal adjustments, based on other countries’ experiences. The use of the account following its opening is also unclear and quite restrictive. It is due to the above-mentioned reasons and the lack of a more competitive framework and opportunity in the market for the electronic signature which would give impetus to the digitalization cycle closing of services and payments in the banking industry. We must emphasize that upon opening the online account; the electronic signature; the payment of public services, and international payments by the business, the digitalization cycle of banking services is considered closed.


The Forum, attracting the attention of responsible institutions and market players interested in the digitalization of banking services, served as a discussion where opportunities, analysis, challenges, experiences, and goals were presented to continue the future joint cooperation in order to fulfil numerous requests that derived by the passing of the time and they need to be solved. A Concept-note will be elaborated in the following weeks and will be presented to the relevant state structures and stakeholders.

Albanian Association of Banks